5/18/2013

Word Wrangling

There's a fun little book on the shelf I received for Christmas one year from my sister, Yvonne. It's entitled, "Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas." The reason this came to mind was some recent conversations with yes, younger folks who don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about when it comes to time honored expressions--idioms. My husband told a server in a recent restaurant visit that she was "Johnny on the spot" with our drinks and received a zombie-like look.

In this terribly technical age of texts, emails, with acronyms to cover a range of phrases, such as lol, omg, btw,ayk are the norm. If you want my opinion, I think it's just plain sad. We're losing the fun of English, which as you know is a difficult and irregular sort of language. However, when people actually had conversations with each other, lots of of colorful expressions were used to keep things interesting. Most of them came from real life which also helps us to remember trivia on history, boating, plays, the Bible, and much more. So, if you ever get on Jeopardy with Alex, these might help you win big money.

Here are a few from this book by Judy Parkinson, who must have had a good time researching these familiar sayings. My mother used to tell her four children that we were giving her the "heebie jeebies." This meant we were giving her way too much anxiety which a reflection on our behavior at the time. The expression came about in the 1920s when rhyming phrases were all the rage (yet another expression). I can't help myself. Billy DeBeck, a cartoonist is credited with "heebie jeebies" which was used in his cartoon published in 1923 in the New York American.

Pig in a Poke - County Crafts UK.com
Here's another familiar one - "a feather in your cap." Easy, right? It's to be proud of an accomplishment. This was literally a common practice on every continent. How about "a chip on your shoulder"? This is from around 1840 and a game between guys - of course! It involved a guy daring another guy to dislodge an actual chip or piece of wood from his shoulder. If you use some imagination, you can guess what happened in this particular game. Today, if you have a chip on your shoulder, you're carrying a grudge of some kind. Then if you do attempt to settle that grudge, you'll have to let the chips fall where they may.

There are many, many more that embroider our conversations with laughable word pictures, such as being "hoisted by your own petard." That comes from Hamlet. Parents should know that "little pitchers have big ears."  You should also know that the "cat may get your tongue", but "every dog has its day".  You may have to "eat humble pie "after" getting egg on your face." Isn't that much more fun than LOL?

So don't put your foot in it and don't buy a pig in poke. Shake a leg before they send in the clowns.

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Positively encouraging

5/18/2013

Word Wrangling

There's a fun little book on the shelf I received for Christmas one year from my sister, Yvonne. It's entitled, "Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas." The reason this came to mind was some recent conversations with yes, younger folks who don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about when it comes to time honored expressions--idioms. My husband told a server in a recent restaurant visit that she was "Johnny on the spot" with our drinks and received a zombie-like look.

In this terribly technical age of texts, emails, with acronyms to cover a range of phrases, such as lol, omg, btw,ayk are the norm. If you want my opinion, I think it's just plain sad. We're losing the fun of English, which as you know is a difficult and irregular sort of language. However, when people actually had conversations with each other, lots of of colorful expressions were used to keep things interesting. Most of them came from real life which also helps us to remember trivia on history, boating, plays, the Bible, and much more. So, if you ever get on Jeopardy with Alex, these might help you win big money.

Here are a few from this book by Judy Parkinson, who must have had a good time researching these familiar sayings. My mother used to tell her four children that we were giving her the "heebie jeebies." This meant we were giving her way too much anxiety which a reflection on our behavior at the time. The expression came about in the 1920s when rhyming phrases were all the rage (yet another expression). I can't help myself. Billy DeBeck, a cartoonist is credited with "heebie jeebies" which was used in his cartoon published in 1923 in the New York American.

Pig in a Poke - County Crafts UK.com
Here's another familiar one - "a feather in your cap." Easy, right? It's to be proud of an accomplishment. This was literally a common practice on every continent. How about "a chip on your shoulder"? This is from around 1840 and a game between guys - of course! It involved a guy daring another guy to dislodge an actual chip or piece of wood from his shoulder. If you use some imagination, you can guess what happened in this particular game. Today, if you have a chip on your shoulder, you're carrying a grudge of some kind. Then if you do attempt to settle that grudge, you'll have to let the chips fall where they may.

There are many, many more that embroider our conversations with laughable word pictures, such as being "hoisted by your own petard." That comes from Hamlet. Parents should know that "little pitchers have big ears."  You should also know that the "cat may get your tongue", but "every dog has its day".  You may have to "eat humble pie "after" getting egg on your face." Isn't that much more fun than LOL?

So don't put your foot in it and don't buy a pig in poke. Shake a leg before they send in the clowns.

No comments: